A Story-Based Positive Youth Development Program for Youth Ice Hockey Players: An Evaluation of the Coach Segment
Maw, Alexandra Lynn
Coaching , Positive youth development , Program evaluation , Partnership research
Coaches play a key role in shaping sport environments and athlete experiences (Côté et al., 2020). Despite this recognition, many coach development programs (CDPs) do not adequately address and teach the knowledge and skills necessary to facilitate positive athlete development (Allan et al., 2017). Accordingly, a PYD program known as the 1616 Program was developed with the aim of purposefully fostering good sport environments that allow for developmentally rich opportunities for youth involved in ice hockey across North America. The 1616 Program includes a coach segment that aims to overcome many shortcomings of current CDPs, specifically through grounding their program in coaching effectiveness, leadership, and behaviour change literature. To better understand the impact of such CDPs, researchers have recommended comprehensive evaluations that explore both outcomes (i.e., outcome evaluation) and the process of its delivery (i.e., process evaluation; e.g., Coatsworth & Conroy, 2007). Thus, the purpose of this study was to assess the impact of the coach segment of the 1616 Program through outcome and process evaluations. A mixed-method convergent parallel design was employed. Thirty ice hockey coaches from across North America participated in this study. Twenty-one coaches completed questionnaire assessments and nine participated in interview discussions. A variety of measures were used to assess perceived outcomes for both coaches and their athletes. Paired-sample t-tests were run to examine differences between coach perceptions from before and after the program using a retrospective pretest-postest approach. Results of the study demonstrated an increase in mean scores across all constructs. Specifically, coaches generally felt that athletes improved in relation to their personal assets (i.e., the 4Cs of positive youth development) and that they, as coaches, improved in relation to important behaviour change markers and efficacy beliefs. Further, coaches verbalized attained outcomes, such as improved interpersonal and leadership skills, as well as athletes demonstrating improved friendships and confidence. Moreover, through process-related assessments, coaches felt strongly about the program’s delivery, including that it was a positive experience and of high quality. Despite coaches also noting some areas for improvements, the coach segment of the 1616 Program did demonstrate promising results for improving coaches’ perceptions of their positive coaching behaviours and for a strong implementation. Implications and limitations of the study will be discussed within the document.